Ma Qing Hua will make his first appearance in an official F1 practice session for HRT at the Italian Grand Prix this weekend.
He will become the first Chinese driver ever to participate in an official F1 session when he takes over Narain Karthikeyan’s car during the first 90-minute session at Monza.
The 24-year-old from Shanghai previously drove the F112 for one day at Silverstone during the Young Drivers’ Test in July.
Ma said the opportunity was: “A very important step towards my dream of becoming a Formula 1 driver.”
“I’m very excited about driving at a circuit like Monza,” he added. “The objective of this session is to continue advancing with my programme, rack up more miles and experience at the wheel of an F1 car and help the team with whatever they need.
“I’m excited but also calm about it because I’ve been training hard in the past months to be prepared when the opportunity presented itself. I’ve also worked on the simulator to get to know the circuits a bit better and how a Formula 1 car reacts.
“In the last months I’ve been with the team at Grands Prix I’ve also learned a lot from the engineers and my team mates, who have shared information and their experience, which will be very useful.
“It will be the first time that a Chinese driver takes part in a Grand Prix and that, for Chinese motorsport, is another huge stride and a fantastic opportunity. I want to thank all the people who have supported and helped me to get here.
“From my parents and China Sport Management to the Chinese Motorsport Federation, the companies that have supported and support me, and of course HRT Formula 1 Team for giving me this opportunity. I won’t let them down.”
Team principal Luis Perez-Sala said the team’s development driver had met their expectations so far: “Since we started working with him in March everything has been very quick but he’s responded and overcome every phase accordingly.
“From tests with World Series or GP2 cars, passing through sessions on the simulator, to the Formula 1 tests in Silverstone where he completed 500 km with no problems. He’s shown to us that he’s on a good level and has transmitted the necessary confidence to take the next step, which is to make his debut at a free practice session of a Grand Prix.”
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Images © HRT F1 Team